The beginning of the year is a busy time for many young people who are desperate to study.
As most people start the year with enthusiasm and New Year’s resolutions, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has urged prospecting students and parents to beware of the private institutions of higher education and training that are not registered.
Unfortunately, some of those who desire to further their studies end up enrolling with bogus tertiary institutions without knowing, leaving them with invalid certificates of higher education and money gone to waste.
How to identify bogus institutions
There are different types of education and training institutions in South Africa namely:
- Public higher education and training institutions.
- Private providers of education and training.
Public institutions include public universities, universities of technology, technical vocational education and training (tvet) colleges and community education and training colleges. These are state-funded institutions and are established by the DHET by means of legislation.
“They [public institutions] are deemed to be registered because they are established by law,” the department said.
All private providers of higher education and training in the country are required to be registered with it, according to the law.
“These institutions are required to display their registration certificate and make it available for scrutiny, on request by anyone.
If the institution cannot confirm or produce its registration certificate issued by the department, then the institution might be unregistered and the public must not enrol at such a institution and must further inform the DHET by using a toll-free call centre line: 0800 87 2222.
In the certificate of registration, the public must verify the name of the institution; the site of delivery; the programmes registered to offer; and the registration period of the institution.
The department says applicants must firstly verify with the DHET before enrolling at any private institution of education and training by calling the call centre numbers
Members of the public are also advised to contact the department’s Career Development Services by SMS: send an SMS to 072 204 5056 with your question; send a “Call me back” to 086 999 0123 and one of the career advisors will call you back (Mon-Fri: 08h00 to 16h30); E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / Visit Facebook: www.facebook.com/careerhelp, Twitter: www.twitter.com/rsacareerhelp or visit the website: www.careerhelp.org.za
Furthermore, the department said people may contact the Central Application Clearing House on toll-free number 0800 356 635 or SMS your name and ID number to 49200.
Steps to follow, to claim a refund
Students who are already victimised by these institutions are advised to request a refund from the institutions, and if they fail to reclaim their money they can approach the court.
Victims must also inform the DHET and get written confirmation from the department that the programme or college is not registered.
“For amounts up to R12 000, you can approach the Small Claims Court with the letter of confirmation from the department. For amounts above R12 000, you must engage an attorney, and students who cannot afford legal fees may approach the Legal Aid Board at 0800 110 110,” said the department.
For more information and to get a list of unregistered institutions visit: www.dhet.gov.za